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Becoming a role model: the breastfeeding trajectory of Hong Kong women breastfeeding longer than 6 months

International Journal of Nursing Studies. 41(5): 535-546. 2004.
Tarrant A.M., Dodgson J.E. and Choi V.W.K.


While a substantial proportion of breastfeeding women stop early in the postpartum period, some women are able to breastfeed for longer periods. The aim of this research was to explore the experience of breastfeeding with a subsample of Hong Kong women who have breastfed for longer than 6 months. Participants (n=17) were recruited from a larger infant-feeding study (n=360) conducted in tertiary-care hospitals in Hong Kong. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted and content analysis was used to analyse the data. Data analysis revealed four themes that encompassed the women's experiences: (1) making the decision, (2) maintaining family harmony, (3) overcoming barriers, and (4) sustaining lactation. Antenatally, participants anticipated that breastfeeding would be very 'difficult' and described how the practice did not fit with the image of a professional woman in Hong Kong. Despite family opposition, frequently from their mother-in-law, and lack of societal acceptance, difficulties were overcome by what the Chinese people call hung-sum or determination. This study highlights unique cultural and social findings affecting breastfeeding women in Hong Kong which may be useful to health-care providers working with Chinese women locally and internationally.

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